JC Penney, your grandma’s store no more?


JC Penney has taken a “less is more” attitude toward advertising this year. It has got me thinking, are they trying to be more like Hollister? I think so.

At home in Minneapolis, we get the Sunday newspaper and I’ve noticed that the dowdy department store ads JC Penney used to put out have been totally revamped. Their newspaper inserts used to resemble catalog layouts, with a blah-di-blah plain red, black or white background and as many items squeezed onto each page as possible. Every single piece of clothing on the store’s racks, in every available color, made it into those Sunday ads.

Now JC Penney’s ads look more like those from one of the trendy stores the trendy teenagers love, like Hollister or Abercrombie. JC Penney’s new ads are full of vibrant scenes and images that look like they came from the vacation scrapbook of a professional photographer. The clothing has become secondary to the layout, which is no longer devoid of white space. Instead of five different colors of the same shirt fanned out or stacked into a pile, you can admire just one shirt paired with some fun new summer accessories in a fun beach scene that takes up the entire 2-page layout.

JC Penney’s new look also comes with a new name, JCP. This acronym has been used before, it’s true, but in the new ads the full name of my grandmother’s favorite department store is hard to find. I had to flip to the very back page where it was hidden in a corner.

The big question on my mind is: Did it work? Has JCP successfully made the transition from “Dowdy” to “Hip?”

–By Michelle LeGault

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